Hamburg’s Joseph Cominsky is tackled by Annville-Cleona’s Trace Seiple during the first half of the football game on Sept. 6 at Annville-Cleona
Hamburg's Joseph Cominsky is tackled by Annville-Cleona's Trace Seiple during the first half of the football game on Sept. 6 at Annville-Cleona High School. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS/JEREMY LONG, FILE)
It could still be a while before it is determined if criminal charges will be filed against a high-school football player who ripped an opponent's helmet off and then struck him with it.

South Annville Township police Chief Ben Sutcliffe said Tuesday that his department has not conducted any face-to-face interviews into the Sept. 6 incident, but it has collected numerous written statements.

"We're going over those and anticipating more statements, and once we compile that stuff and put it into one basket, we'll determine what we're going to do and go from there," he said. "As of now, it's still a work in progress."

None of the statements that have been received thus far have come from players, Sutcliffe said. They have come from other people who were at the game.

"We are going to attempt to do some interviews," he said. "It depends on if the students and players want to give statements and if the parents agree, because we're talking mostly juveniles."

The incident occurred during the third quarter of a football game between Hamburg High School and Annville-Cleona High School at A-C's stadium in South Annville Township. During an on-field scuffle, Hamburg senior quarterback/safety Joseph Cominsky ripped the helmet off of Annville-Cleona offensive lineman Josh Hartman.

In a video of the incident taken by WGAL TV-8, Cominsky can be seen twice swinging the helmet at Hartman. With the second swing, Cominsky can be seen striking Hartman on his head with the helmet while Hartman was lying on his back.

Afterwards, Hartman lay on the ground for a few moments, then got up and walked toward the sideline holding his head. He received a laceration to his scalp and was eventually cleared to return to the game. Cominsky was ejected from the game.

Annville-Cleona senior running back Taylor Prentice was also ejected for throwing several punches into a crowd of players after the helmet-swinging incident. Per PIAA rules, both Cominsky and Prentice were suspended from their team's next game.

The PIAA's District 3 announced last week that, although it has the power to ask for information from the schools, it is allowing both schools to handle the matter internally. District 3 has not scheduled a hearing on the incident, although it could do so at a later date.

See also: Police investigating helmet-swinging incident at football game

Annville-Cleona offers little comment on helmet-swinging incident

Lebanon County District Attorney David Arnold said there is precedent regarding filing charges for incidents that occur during sporting events both on the national and local level. In fact, Arnold said, his office successfully prosecuted a man who assaulted a referee during a flag-football game at In The Net in South Londonderry Township.

"Despite the fact that it's in the midst of a sporting event, that kind of activity can't be tolerated, no matter where it occurs," he said.

However, Arnold said, he has no interest in getting involved in typical "heat-of-the-moment skirmishes" that regularly occur during sporting events.

"But when there's a clear intent to cause injury to somebody, that goes beyond the bounds of a typical sports skirmish, and that's where we take notice and consider getting involved," he said.

The South Annville police department contacted the district attorney's office in the days following the incident, but Sutcliffe and Arnold said there has not been any contact between the two since then.

"Typically, when it's something out of the ordinary, most departments would call us and ask what's the best approach to take with it," Arnold said. "Once the charges are filed it becomes our responsibility what to do with it."